Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate and Longford Town Cllr, Joe Flaherty has called for a replacement ambulance transport vehicle for St. Joseph’s Care Centre in Longford and said that the much-valued service cannot be allowed to cease.

Cllr Flaherty was commenting as the HSE confirmed they are not obliged to provide a replacement ambulance for patient transport and that it is likely the ‘service will probably cease in the very near future’.

He said, “Minister Harris visited the centre just a few short months ago. His visit was hailed by some as ‘futureproofing’ the centre. It’s a pity that didn’t extend to the patient transport service which is vital to so many people who access services and treatments in Dublin, Mullingar and Tullamore.

“The current vehicle  has over 800,000km on the clock and is still expected to make daily trips to and from Dublin. You don’t need to be a mechanic to know that a well-worn vehicle with 800,000km mileage doesn’t have long left.

In the past, the Longford Social Services Council (LSS) applied for the national lottery grant to purchase the ambulance and the HSE would then fund the balance. While the national lottery grants are still available the HSE no longer fund the remainder.

“Given that the national lottery grant is capped at €10,000 while the cost of purchasing a fully equipped vehicle significantly more than that  – it’s reasonable to assume that LSS won’t be in a position to purchase a replacement without assistance from the Department.